Playoff Push: Dubon’s homer gives Giants the edge in 7-2 win over the Rockies

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Winning formulas never get old, so the Giants reached in the well one more time.

Beating sub .500 teams at home with offense has become a reoccurring theme for San Francisco, and it surfaced again Wednesday night in a 7-2 win over the Rockies. The Giants have won 15 of 19 at Oracle Park with most of the wins just like this one.

Mauricio Dubon hit a three-run homer in the seventh to break up a 2-2 tie, and send the Giants to a second win in this critical four-game series starting the regular season’s final week. With the Cardinals, Marlins and Brewers losing in the tightly-bunched NL playoff hunt, the Giants assumed the eighth and final spot with five games remaining.

“You’re playing meaningful baseball and every hit, every run, every home run, every catch you make counts,” Dubon said. “That’s the fun part of it.”

Dubon’s game-altering shot came two pitches after manager Bud Black lifted starter Ryan Castellani in the fifth, in which he allowed a leadoff double to Alex Dickerson, then walked two of the next four batters, allowing the Giants to tie the score, 2-2.

Yency Almonte relieved and watched Dubon send his slider over the left field wall. Dubon’s was the biggest of the Giants 11 hits, five of which went for extra bases including Evan Longoria’s solo shot that got the Giants on the board for the first time in the fourth.

“The pitch to Dubón was a slider the just didn’t get to the outside part of the plate,” Black said. “It didn’t get away from the barrel. The kid dropped the head on it, got it up in the air. He squared it up.”

The Giants have had their way with losing clubs, winning 22 of 33. They’re 27-11 when they score at least four runs.

Mike Yastrzemski continues to mend his calf, which has caused to miss the last five games. His primary replacement, rookie Luis Basabe injured his hamstring on Tuesday, and is expected to miss the remainder of the regular season and at least two rounds of the playoffs. Steven Duggar was summoned from Sacramento to replace Basabe.

Caleb Baragar started for the Giants, pitching just the first inning as the opener. Logan Webb took over in the second and pitched five, solid innings to get the win. Baragar’s appearance marked the first time the Giants have employed an opener this season, after Bruce Bochy employed the strategy a couple of times in 2019.

Dodgers, Kershaw bring Giants’ seven-game streak to a halt, win 7-0 in doubleheader opener

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Bookmark the Clayton Kershaw-Brandon Belt matchup as today’s barometer for success… or failure.

After the Dodgers and Giants took Tuesday night off in a historic and emotional occasion of social activism, pitching and hitting returned in a big way with the Giants trying to extend their seven-game, offense-fueled win streak against Kershaw, the most successful starting pitcher of the last decade, and by far, the guy the Giants and Belt least like to see on the mound.

Now the numbers available to both managers prior to the first game of the unique, seven-inning doubleheader.

Belt, in one of the finest, offensive showings in his career (9 plus seasons) had four hits, including two homers, a double in the Giants’ epic 10-8 win over the Dodgers in 11 innings on Tuesday.

Kershaw has owned Belt, allowing the slugger four hits and four walks, no home runs in 60 career at-bats, 29 of which concluded in a strikeout.

Manager Gabe Kapler didn’t flinch. He penciled Belt into the sixth spot in his lineup, a nod to Belt’s 16 hits and .571 batting average over his last nine games. Wilmer Flores, Kapler’s less edgy option to start at first base, found his way to lineup as well, playing second base and batting second.

Against Kershaw–rounding into form after a rough start against the Giants at Dodgers Stadium earlier in the month–none of Kapler’s lineup mechanics worked.

Kershaw gave up hard hit balls to both Belt and Flores in their initial at-bats only to see centerfielder Clay Bellinger come up with spectacular catches both times. From there, Kershaw cruised, pitching six, scoreless innings in a 7-0 shutout that left the assembled cutouts speechless.

Kershaw owns the Giants, winning for the 24th time in 49 starts, while his ERA against the Giants dropped to 1.76. Needing seven strikeouts to reach 2,500 in his career, Kershaw registered just four, evidence that as his velocity has decreased, his craftiness has expanded.

Belt finished 0 for 3 with a strikeout, and Flores was 1 for 3 as no Giants hitter was afforded more than three opportunities in a seven-inning game. Joey Bart was hitless as well, striking out all three times, the first time swinging on top of Kershaw’s slider, the second time frozen as the pitcher’s curve dropped in.

The Dodgers kept the fireworks to a minimum with their bats, pushing across a run in the first, and four more in the fourth. Austin Barnes came up with the biggest hit, a double chasing home Chris Taylor and Joc Pederson.

A.J. Pollock’s two-run shot in the seventh concluded the scoring.

Logan Webb suffered the loss as he was unable to replicate his strong start against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Webb pitched into the fourth inning, allowing four hits, two walks and five earned runs.

Giants dig too deep of a hole in 6-4 loss to the Astros, fall to 2-6 on road trip

By Morris Phillips

The series opener at Minute Maid Park afforded the struggling Giants one of two scenarios:

A well-placed opportunity against a good club on a bad stretch in the Astros, just off an ugly brawl and getting swept in Oakland, another distraction for the Major League’s most burdened ballclub in recent memory. Add to that Monday’s starter Lance McCullers Jr. sporting an alarming 9.22 ERA after three starts…

Or another sobering example of the marginally talented Giants being dealt too many road games against contending clubs in unforgiving stadiums in the first 20 games of a gone-before-you-know-it, 60-game season.

A 6-4 loss had the Giants firmly relegated to the second rendering with the Astros blasting off to 6-0 lead only to hang on as pinch hitter Evan Longoria lined out to end it with runners at the corners. McCullers was at his best, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh, after he allowed a career-worst eight runs in his last start.

The 26-year old right-hander retired 19 of the first 20 Giants he faced, with the one hiccup a hit-by-pitch facing Austin Slater leading off the third inning. Donovan Solano broke up McCullers’ gem with a sharply-hit grounder that eluded third baseman Alex Bregman and went for a double.

“We needed a win tonight. We needed to start the homestand on a big, positive note and we did that,” said McCullers, who missed the 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery.

While the Giants couldn’t buy a hit, they stacked up the errors, two by Solano filling in at third, and one by catcher Chadwick Tromp, all in the first four innings. Those miscues made life tough for starter Logan Webb, who was charged with five runs, only two of which were earned, before he was lifted in the fourth inning.

“I think he can be proud of going through that lineup and not really giving up on much hard contact,” manager Gabe Kapler said in Webb’s defense. “I think we have better in us behind him that’s for sure.”

Connor Menez steadied the Giants with two plus innings of relief marred only by Martin Maldonado’s solo shot. That homer was the 28th allowed by Giants’ pitching, and it marked the 15th consecutive game they’ve allowed at least one home run, tying an ignominious  franchise record for the second time.

Solano’s double extended his hit streak to 15 games. He doubled again in the ninth, part of the Giants’ three-run rally to make things interesting. The 32-year old Solano is hitting .458, second only to Charlie Blackmon at .484 in the majors.

The Giants are 4-8 on the road, with all 12 road games at Dodgers Stadium, Coors Field and Minute Maid Park, traditionally tough places to play. The Giants’ stretch of 14 of 20 on the road to start the season ends on Wednesday.

Tyler Anderson starts Tuesday for the Giants on a matchup against Houston’s Brandon  Bielak.

 

 

San Francisco Giants podcast with Morris Phillips: Giants finish season with winning road record; Webb has good pitching performance

photo from sfgate.com: San Francisco Giants’ Logan Webb pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Atlanta.

On the Giants podcast with Morris:

#1 The Giants avoided getting swept by the Atlanta Braves in Cobb County Sunday with a 4-1 win. The Giants added two runs in the top of the sixth. Joey Rickard doubled on a line drive to Nick Markakis. Both Evan Longoria and Kevin Pillar scored on the play. San Francisco snatched a 3-0 lead.

#2 The Giants’ away record was better than their home record away they were 42-39 and home 33-42. The bulk of the Giants’ road success came after the July 31st trade deadline and in August when they hit a speed bump and lost momentum.

#3 For San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, it was his final road game managing.  Bochy notched his 2,000 win of his career when the Giants were in Boston prior to coming to play the Braves.

#4 One of the biggest highlights on the trip was the home run hit by Mike Yastrzemski in Boston Tuesday night, which drew a standing ovation from the Boston crowd — kind of like their own homage indirectly for Mike’s grandfather Carl.

#5 The Giants conclude the 2019 season at Oracle Park on the homestand. The Giants will open against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night for three games and finish the season with the Los Angeles Dodgers for three starting on Friday night. Starting for Colorado, Jeff Hoffman (2-6, 2.71 ERA), and for the Giants, Madison Bumgarner (9-9, 3.86 ERA).

Morris did the Giants podcasts each Monday during the 2019 Giants season and will begin Cal Bears podcasting next Monday, September 30th at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Anonymous Giants not nearly established enough to top the steadier Pirates, lose 6-3

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–A franchise record 62 players have suited up for the Giants this year, and it’s not just difficult to figure out who’s who.

On nights like Wednesday, it’s difficult to determine who’s supposed to do what, and when they’re supposed to do it. The visiting Pirates had a better grasp on all that, built an early lead and emerged with a 6-3 win.

The Giants used six pitchers, benched Buster Posey, lifted Brandon Belt for a pinch-hitter, and intended to lean heavily on rookie starter Logan Webb. The Pirates stuck with their same youth-infused crew that lead them to wins in 11 of their previous 18 games. Jose Osuna led their attack with a pair of doubles, and three runs scored.

“We’re out to win every game,” manager Clint Hurdle said of his Pirates. “There’s winning and losing, and there’s winning and learning. And if you’re losing and not learning, you’re wasting your time. You’ll get run out of this game.  So there’s lessons to be learned, and I think we’ve been able to have solid reviews when things haven’t gone our way.”

The Pirates’ intentions all came to fruition, while the Giants experienced multiple, embarrassing moments. Webb uncorked a pair of wild pitches in the Pirates two-run second, and was gone before finishing five innings. The rookie made his fifth start, and he’s lost twice and received two no-decisions since winning his initial big-league start on August 17.

Six relievers followed Webb, and the group acquitted themselves admirably, allowing two hits and two runs over the final four plus frames. But their efforts couldn’t affect the outcome, as the Giants were held to three singles, two of those in their three-run, fifth inning. The rest of the night was rooted in frustration, as the team came up with just one hit across seven opportunities with a runner in scoring position.

“Three hits, it’s tough to win a ballgame,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You got to take advantage of those innings were we had them on the ropes. The strikeouts got us there. The leadoff walk, the two-out walk, they all came back to haunt us.”

The Giants have dropped eight of their previous 10 home games, and are now nine games below .500 at home on the season. Their three hits were their fewest at Oracle Park since July 19.

If there’s a theme running through this series with one game remaining Thursday, it’s the superior performance of the Pittsburgh bullpen, which has allowed one hit while registering 13 strikeouts. The Giants have failed to score a run in any of the 11 plus innings that the Pirates’ bullpen has pitched.

On Thursday, the Giants will turn to Jeff Samardzija in a matchup with Pittsburgh’s Joe Musgrove, who will be making his first appearance on the mound since July 31.

 

 

 

 

 

San Francisco Giants podcast with Michael Duca: Seeing Red Birds, Giants drop 3 of 4 from Cardinals, lose in laugher on Thursday 10-0

Photo credit: mercurynews.com

On the Giants podcast with Michael:

#1 At this juncture, how anxious does this club seem to be to end this season regroup and see what next spring brings?

#2 The Giants faced two Cardinals pitcher Dakota Hudson and reliever Genesis Cabrera, who both shut the Giants out. The Giants simply could not figure either pitcher out.

#3 Giants starter Logan Webb got lit up going 2.2 innings, eight hits and seven runs, two walks and strikeouts with the Red Birds scoring three in the bottom of the first and five in the bottom of the third.

#4 The Giants used six pitchers, but most of the damage had been done in the five-run third. Webb was charged for all eight runs in the early going.

#5 The Giants hope to turn the page with a series coming up Friday night at Dodger Stadium. For the Giants, Jeff Samardzija (9-11, 3.61 ERA), and for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershawn (13-4, 2.96 ERA).

Michael does the Giants podcast each Friday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Pillar goes 5-for-5, Belt gets grand slam in Giants’ 5-run win, 11-6

sfgate.com photo: San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt hits a grand slam against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second inning during a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Phoenix.

In what is the San Francisco Giants’ last trip to Chase Field this season, the team is on fire through the first three games of the series.

Kevin Pillar went 5-for-5, Brandon Belt hit a grand slam and drove in six runs and the Giants defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 11-6 at Chase Field.

With the victory, the Giants clinched the four-game series with one game remaining on Sunday afternoon and Madison Bumgarner on the mound.

Rookie Logan Webb, who grew up in Rocklin made his major-league debut went five innings, allowing two runs (one earned), giving up five hits, walking one and striking out seven, as he picked up the win in his debut.

Webb, who just returned from an 80-game suspension in July for testing positive for Performance Enhancing Drugs.

The right-hander made three starts at Double-A Richmond and then one at Triple-A Sacramento this past Monday.

Things did not start out well for Webb, as he allowed two runs in the bottom of the first inning, as Jarrod Dyson singled to lead off the inning, and then scored on a Wilmer Flores double. After Webb got Eduardo Escobar and David Peralta, Flores scored on a throwing error on a ball hit by Adam Jones.

Webb got out of the jam, as he got Jake Lamb to ground out to first base to end the inning.

That lead for the Diamondbacks would not last long, as Alex Dickerson led off the second inning with a walk, then Flores committed a throwing error, as he tried to flip the ball to Nick Ahmed at second base.

Pillar then came up with his first hit of the game that loaded the bases, and then Belt hit a grand slam that gave the Giants the lead for good.

It was the second career grand slam for Belt, who last hit one off of Luis Perdomo of the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on April 7, 2017.

Brandon Crawford got into the act following the Belt home run, as he singled; however, Webb popped out on a sacrifice attempt for the first out of the inning.

Mike Yastrzemski, who hit three home runs on Friday night then singled to right field and then Stephen Vogt loaded the bases with a base hit of his own.

Evan Longoria drove in the fifth run of the inning, as he hit a sacrifice fly that scored Crawford from third base and sent Yastrzemski to third base.

Diamondbacks pitcher Taylor Clarke did not get out of the second inning, as he went 1.2 innings, allowing five runs (three earned), walking one and striking out one.

Belt drove in his fifth run of the game in the top of the third inning, as he hit an opposite field single to left field that scored Pillar.

The Giants scored another run in the top of the sixth inning, as Longoria grounded into a double play that scored Austin Slater.

Crawford drove in his first run of the game, as he grounded out to Flores that allowed Scooter Gennett from third base.

Slater, who went 2-for-3 on the game after coming into the game on a double switch that saw Yastrzemski move to left field for Dickerson and Slater went into right field, singled to left field to score Pillar to give the Giants what looked like a commanding seven run lead.

The Diamondbacks, who scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on Friday night to tie up the game began the comeback, as Christian Walker hit a solo home run and then Escobar hit a sacrifice fly that scored Dyson in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Pillar drove in a run with his fifth hit of the game that scored Longoria, who singled to lead off the inning.

Belt then drove in his sixth run of the game, as he grounded out to Flores that scored Gennett from third base.

The final two runs of the game came when Ahmed hit a two-run home run off the foul pole in the bottom of the eighth inning.

With the score 11-6 in the top of the ninth inning, Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo sent his catcher Alex Avila to the mound and he pitched a perfect ninth inning that included striking out Yastrzemski for the second out of the inning.

Jandel Gustave came on to close it out for the Giants in a non-save situation, and the game ended on a great play from Slater to Gennett to Longoria, as Escobar tried to stretch a double into a triple; however, Slater made a perfect throw to Gennett, who threw to Longoria to end the game.

NOTES: With the addition of Webb to the roster, Joey Rickard was optioned to Sacramento to make room for Webb.

The Giants went 7-for-16 with Runners In Scoring Position.

UP NEXT: Bumgarner will take the mound on Sunday for the Giants, while the Diamondbacks, who will try to avoid the sweep will send Merrill Kelly to the hill.